Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
Read Full Bio >>

Zeus Kerravala | February 20, 2014 |


WhatsApp Poses a Future Threat to Corporate Collaboration

WhatsApp Poses a Future Threat to Corporate Collaboration I'm here to warn the entire corporate collaboration industry to watch your backs because the era of consumer collaboration is coming.

I'm here to warn the entire corporate collaboration industry to watch your backs because the era of consumer collaboration is coming.

This week of February has been filled with some big events. First the Kerravala family went on vacation to Aruba (the country, not Aruba Networks, as some of you have asked). For those of you not lucky enough to be part of this family, you may have enjoyed February school vacation (in MA) or settled for the Lync Conference in Las Vegas. While I'm not at the Lync Conference, I have been following some of the news from the event, and all of us that cover the collaboration market have been more than impressed by the growth that Lync has shown over the past few years--as I wrote in my 2013 wrap-up blog, last year was "The Year of Lync".

Why is there this much excitement and hype over Lync? We've all been fascinated with the momentum of Lync--somewhere between 10 Million or 30 Million seats based on whose numbers you believe; we've all had channel partners tell us about the interest they've seen as well; and we've all seen Microsoft Lync as a huge threat to the traditional UC vendors such as Cisco and Avaya.

Well, I'm here to warn the entire corporate collaboration industry to watch your backs because the era of consumer collaboration is coming. To date, the BYOD wave has been primarily device-focused, but now that the devices are here, we should think of the BYO era shifting to apps, including the collaboration apps, so enter the BYO-A era.

And now Facebook has made a splash in the collaboration market by plunking down a whopping $19 billion to buy 5-year-old WhatsApp. For those that don't know WhatsApp, it is to consumer messaging what Lync has been to the corporate collaboration world. WhatsApp is a mobile application that allows its users to chat, group chat and call one another. The app also allows users to send photos and videos easily, as well as share location information. It's not hard to imagine Facebook adding real-time video capabilities down the road. The app is cross-platform and works on all mobile devices, and has a much better interface than any of the native SMS tools.

Facebook has been trying to build its own messaging service to attract younger, highly mobile users, but has had limited success with the Facebook Messenger application. I think the failure of Facebook Messenger is that the company tried to replicate BlackBerry Messenger instead of developing a whole new type of messenger service. So instead of trying to compete with WhatsApp, Facebook chose to buy them.

While we're all awestruck by the rapid growth of Lync to 30 million seats (though that number is arguably high), WhatsApp has in a mere five years amassed 450 million users, of which 70% are active. So that's about 250 million active users. Compare this to Facebook itself, that has about 145 million daily active users, or the Microsoft-owned Skype with about 50 million. I actually don't think it's unreasonable to expect WhatsApp to be the first billion-user community.

I read through Eric Krapf's blog on Gurdeep Singh Pall's keynote, where the recently-returned head of the Skype-Lynce division talked about Microsoft's goal of creating universal communications, and how Microsoft will be focused on vendor interoperability through the support of Android tablets and Tandberg video systems.

I've heard similar messages from the likes of Avaya, Cisco and Polycom, and I can't express strongly enough how important multi-vendor, multi-device interoperability is for the health of the corporate UC platforms. I've said this before and I'll say it again: If corporate collaboration were easy to use, worked cross platform and actually worked for B2B use cases, it would create a rising tide that would lift this entire industry. Instead we expect organizations to either have to decide between vendors or somehow cobble together a multi-vendor solution. Then we applaud the vendors when they have the "vision" to focus on things that would actually make it easy for their customers to use the stuff.

Now I understand that applications like Facebook and WhatsApp are also islands--but they are really big islands. And because the community is so large, they have become de facto standards among the younger generation. As these users move through school and to the workplace, it's possible, even highly likely, they'll use the easy-to-use consumer tools instead of the corporate ones. Today the reason many workers use the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, and Google Hangouts is because B2B usage is simple. In fact, I visited a small company last week that has made Hangouts its standard for all corporate communications--internal and external.

So again the message to the business collaboration vendors is: Stop thinking you can be the only set of tools a business needs and focus on interoperability and make it as easy as possible for customers to get the tools up and running. This will remove any need for workers to bring consumer applications in. In the meantime think of the threat if Facebook and Google actually created interoperability?

Follow Zeus Kerravala on Twitter and Google+!
Zeus Kerravala on Google+


June 20, 2018

Your enterprise may have adopted SIP Trunks, but are you up to date on how the latest technology is driving evolution in approaches?

In this webinar, youll learn how the new generation of SI

June 6, 2018

The two largest strategic vendors-Cisco and Microsoft-have been busy making changes to their enterprise communications roadmaps, incorporating collaboration applications as fundamental components.

May 23, 2018

If Cisco is a critical strategic supplier for you, then its vital for you to understand the most recent announcements around Webex Teams, and how to build your migration path for the next generatio

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.